Limestone edifice turned into guest house
Eldon and Rhonda Hett have expanded the setting of the historic limestone barn on their farm south of Aulne to include a pond and beach and other landscaping, providing a pleasant place for picnics and family gatherings.
The barn dates back to the late 1800s. The farmstead was purchased by Eldon’s grandparents, John and Rena Hett, in 1919, and John lived there for almost 20 years after Rena died in 1958. They raised nine children.
Eldon and Rhonda eventually took over the homestead and later spent two years renovating the barn, creating a modern living quarters that could be used as a lodge or guesthouse.
After Eldon’s mother died in 2000, Eldon invited his father, J.D., to move to the barn from his large home in Marion. He lived there for several years.
Rhonda said they added a stone patio out back, where J.D. could sit and enjoy the view.
They took a picture of him on the patio when it was finished, not knowing it would be the last day he would live there. He had a stroke the next day and never was able to return to the barn to live. He was at St. Luke Living Center until his death in 2012.
About 3½ years ago, the Hetts’ daughter, Shawna, her husband, Albert Johnson, and their two daughters lived in the barn for a year.
Since then, it has been used for family gatherings and for housing visiting family members.
A story about the barn appeared in the December/January issue of Farm and Ranch Living.
Rhonda Hett said Eldon’s late aunt, Iva Unruh of Marion, requested that someone write a story about the barn for the popular farm magazine. Davy Hett’s wife, Michele, wrote the story, and Rhonda submitted pictures.
The write-up was stored in the magazine’s files for several years before becoming part of a special issue focusing on American barns.
The Hetts hope to provide ice-skating on the pond for their family and friends later this winter if it gets cold enough to freeze solid.